2008 Honda Accord EX-L 3.5L V6 Timing Belt Tips:
The Honda Dealer quoted me the following prices for the various parts to do the job:
AC Delco kit TCKWP329 was purchased for $270 from the local parts house, or just less than 200 at RockAuto.com (plus shipping). It included an aftermarket water pump and tensioner, original equipment KOYO bearings for the guide pulley and tensioner pulley, plus an AC Delco timing belt.
The serpentine belt to drive the accessories such as the power steering and air conditioning is purchased separately from the timing belt kit. It was an AC Delco 6K841 belt.
This is a tip sheet for non-professional mechanics, not a step-by-step guide. This is intended to give you a little more confidence going into the job, save you a little time, answer questions thatmight come up as you complete the job, and more than anything increase your preparedness before starting. It is important to have everything you need to do the job ready to go. Not everything you will need will be in the kit:
• Mega Gray Sealant for the water pump o-ring. This seals casting imperfections. Many people use it when building import motors. It is a kind of a gray silicone like sealant available at most parts houses.
• Special holding tool for the 50mm harmonic balancer. These are readily available on eBay if you search for Honda Harmonic Balancer tool. Mine cost about $28. Don't buy the one with the pre-attached handle. It is better to use the one that hooks into a 1/2" extension or 1/2" breaker bar.
• If you Google this job very much, you will find out getting the harmonic balance bolt loose can be very difficult. I use a 19mm six point QUALITY socket in 3/4" drive size. Most of the time you will need either a 3/4" impact gun, or a 3/4" drive set to break loose the harmonic balancer bolt. I tried an 18" Craftsman 1/2" breaker bar with a cheater, and it was not up to the task. It, along with the extensions necessary to clear the wheel well, flexed too much. The 3/4" drive set did not flex. So with a 3/4" ratchet it quickly came free. Most 3/4" drive sets do not include a little 3/4" socket. They typically start at 1 1/4" and go up from there. When sourcing sockets, make sure after receiving the 50mm internal socket that holds the harmonic balancer, that the 19mm socket will fit inside of it. My particular 50mm internal socket has an inner diameter of 1.60". Gray Pneumatic (GP) makes 3/4" drive impacts that are just under 1.50" OD, and will fit inside the 50mm tool ok. SK impacts no longer fit. They increased the outer diameter size of the deep well to 1.63", making it the same as their shallow. Neither will work. A 3/4" drive ratchet (or breaker bar), extensions long enough to clear the wheel well is handy, OR a 3/4" impact gun. My 1/2" Craftsman pneumatic impact gun (one of the top of the line ones) did not get it free. Not enough power (an electric impact might work better, so I hear). Note that you will still need a 1/2" breaker bar to hold the special holding tool. An 18" long Craftsman will work best for that, because the handle is square on the end. That will engage the tie-rod end where the threads are on the inboard side, allowing it to hold the 50mm tool hands-free when removing. The 50mm the holds the harmonic balancer to prevent the engine from rotating, and the 19mm socket setup breaks the bolt free in the center. I propped up the extensions for the 3/4" drive set with a couple of wheel/tire assemblies and a wood block, then I was able to crank downwards against them to break it free. It can be a one-person job if you have the right stuff. When installing, I put the 18" craftsman breaker bar in the hole in the lower control arm. This held the harmonic balancer when torquing it. I was careful routing the breaker bar with the 50mm tool both times, as it can damage the wire to the brake for the ABS. Once the bolt is loose, no special puller was required to pull the harmonic balancer off the crank. It pulled straight off with a gentle tug of the hands.
• Special Honda blue long-life antifreeze. Go to the Honda Dealer or try an aftermarket import supplier. O'Reilley's special ordered it from one of their import suppliers. It is Beck/Arnley 252-1501U. It is already 50/50. It took nearly 2 gallons. If you are thinking you need to investigate substituting another type, be prepared to be overwhelmed with a ton of information that is inconsistent and unverifiable, with some "experts" changing their opinion over time.
• Excellent set of metric hand tools. 1/4" drive set. 3/8" drive set, both with shallow and deep with a good selection of extensions. 10mm, 12mm, 14mm, 15mm, 17mm, 19mm (3/4) were used quite frequently. Combination wrenches, a set of deep offset box end wrenches, as well as ratcheting wrenches like Gear Wrenches are also handy. I used a 3/8" x 3" wobble extension quite often. I used a 10mm and 12mm universal swivel in 3/8" drive a few times. Determination and patience will substitute for some of this. I used a torque wrench. Some of the torque settings were 9 ft lbs (tensioner), 33 ft. lbs (guide pulley), 47 ft. lbs +60 degrees (harmonic balancer bolt). You will need 2 jack stands to hold the car, plus another to hold up the front of the engine, depending on how you do that.
• Spark plugs must be loosened to allow the engine to turn by hand. If you are going to break them free, I would highly recommend replacing them at the same time. There is only one option, the original manufacturer; NGK. It is an Iridium plug and is very expensive ($10 to 15 each depending on supplier). Do not put anti-seize or lubrication on plated spark plugs such as these. It causes up to 20% overtorquing, which can break the plugs or the cylinder heads. Do not gap the plugs. This will damage them (they are pregapped). Handle them carefully. At 80,000 miles they didn't look worn, however the 3 on the back side near the firewall were somewhat salty looking. I noticed an immediate improvement in smoothness and acceleration so I would think you would want to consider doing them while you have them loose.
• After the balancer comes off, there is a thin sheetmetal washer underneath, called the timing belt guide plate. Make sure you note the direction it installs. It is sort of a guide/retainer for the belt when it goes around the crank. If you install it the flipped over in the wrong direction, your belt will probably be noisy and get chewed up quickly!
• I drained the radiator, but that did not prepare me for the gallon deluge that happens when you pull the water pump from the front of the block. They put an irregular hole near the top center to be able to insert a screwdriver/punch/line up tool to help pull it free. The antifreeze is nastier than regular. It is a little more viscous, sticky, and will give you a mild burning sensation. It does not evaporate quickly. Keep the pets away until you have it thoroughly policed up and sealed in a bottle.
• The aftermarket instructions said I should remove a battery hold down bolt (long J-bolt) to use as a special tool. They instruct you to insert it into a tab near the tensioner, thereby holding it in place during the removal and installation of the belt. I could not understand the usefulness of this operation. I did it, but it seemed like a waste of time. It takes a lot of time to get it threaded in, and a thin metal bracket for the wiring harness must be bent back on the rear cylinder bank. A video I watched showed that during removal of the belt, undo one of the tensioner bolts and simply let it pivot out of the way (keep fingers clear!). I think I will do it that way next time and save the 20 minutes.
• The motor mount comes off in two parts. Support the engine for removal. The first part that bolts to the rubber biscuit will need removed right away. Wait to remove the second chunk, a big knob that goes over the water pump. It has 3 large bolts and covers the water pump. It cannot completely be removed until both cam covers are off, so if you want to save a little time wait until those covers are off. Be sure to install it after the timing belt goes on (since it covers the timing belt), but before the cam covers go back on. Having said that, once you have the water pump on (probably using the Mega Grey sealant), you need to be ready to do the tensioner, idler, and timing belt immediately thereafter. This is because the motor mount knob bolting is common to the water pump. You don't really want to have your sealant set up on you overnight without the only bolts going through the center of the water pump not being installed until the following day.
• I used threadlocker as shown in the following photo for the tensioner pivot bolt, and the bottom motor mount bolt common to the water pump.
• When you put the timing belt on for the first time, there is a good chance you will be off one tooth because the slack was in the wrong spot. Treat that as your learning experience for the rework-put a small chalk mark on a tooth on the belt and one on the offending camshaft pulley, and when you redo it you will know exactly which direction to move it. The marks must be lined up on the crank and the two cams exactly as the instructions show, or it will run rough or damage the engine. I rotated the engine clockwise through 2 revolutions and checked it again.
• The back cam cover has a long tab that must be inserted into the lower front cover. Do not bother screwing in any of the bolts until you are sure you have completely inserted the tab into the slot. When I got it right, it was flush with the block all the way around.
• Getting the accessory serpentine belt on can be difficult. I used a 1/2" breaker bar with long extensions and a socket going out from the wheel well to crank against the tensioner, and braced it against my leg while I wiggled the belt on. The problem is there is not a direct path from the wheel well because of a body flange, so it really helps to have a helper. It would have been better if Honda would have put a little notch there. Also, I placed a wood block underneath the harmonic balancer and a/c compressor, to keep the belt from sagging downwards and preventing me from using that slack when I was trying to pull the belt around the tensioner. I was sure to remove it when I had the belt in place!
• Disconnect the battery while performing all of the work. Support the vehicle and engine thoroughly. Wear eye protection and personal protective equipment. Keep animals away from antifreeze. Be safe.
Comments or questions appreciated.
The maintenance message reminder to do the timing belt service can be reset after the work is complete by using the same method as resetting after an oil-change.